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Current Projects

The following list provides information on research projects currently underway at Rutgers Center for State Health Policy. To help you navigate, projects are classified by focus area and include the project name, funder, a brief description, and a link if you would like to request additional information.

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Population Health

  • New Jersey’s Approach to Addressing the Opioid Epidemic: Rapid-Cycle Feedback and Early Lessons

    Horizon Foundation for New Jersey

    Enacted in 2017, a new state initiative addressing the opioid epidemic, aims to substantially increase the number of New Jersey residents receiving substance use disorder (SUD) treatment and decrease the incidence of opioid use disorder (OUD) over the next several years. Monitoring the early experiences across the state is critical to understanding the impact of the law. As a result, Rutgers Center for State Health Policy is documenting early lessons learned and providing rapid-cycle feedback from the implementation of New Jersey’s path-breaking policy initiative through the following evaluation components: 1) monitoring SUD treatment facilities in each county to assess patient access to outpatient and inpatient treatment for OUD; 2) monitoring changes in Medicaid prescriptions for opioids in New Jersey; and 3) key Informant interviews of opioid prescribers in New Jersey.

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  • Culture of Health Policy Options for New Jersey

    Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

    In an effort to facilitate informed policymaking by incoming leaders, the Center for State Health Policy, in collaboration with the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, aims to develop a strategic document that highlights a set of specific, evidence-based, high-impact policies across the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) Culture of Health Action Framework that hold the collective promise of improving overall health and well-being for all New Jersey residents. The objective for this project is to develop, in collaboration with RWJF, a policy report for New Jersey that is grounded in the Culture of Health tenets that: 1) assesses trends in key health and social determinants of health measures; 2) identifies windows of opportunity for advancing well-being through evidence-based policy and systems change; and 3) presents recommendations for action in terms that are accessible to policymakers and stakeholders.

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  • Examining Obesity Declines among School Children: The Role of Changes in the Food and Physical Activity Environments

    National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH)

    This project is designed to identify alterable factors in the food and physical activity (PA) environment that contribute to declines in obesity rates among school children. While overall obesity rates remain high in the U.S., there have been promising reports of declines among specific subgroups across the country. Yet, little is known about the causes of such declines. This project aims to identify changes in the food and PA environments in schools and the surrounding communities that predict sustained obesity declines over time among a panel of K-12 schools, and explore whether these predictors differ by race/ethnicity, age, and gender of students. The project will also identify those community- and school-level changes that are most common among schools with sustained obesity declines and examine whether the distinguishing changes differ by race/ethnicity, age, and gender. The project focuses on all public schools in four NJ cities: Newark, Trenton, Camden, and New Brunswick. The research will prospectively follow 120 schools (30,000 students/year) over the eight-year study period. Nurse-measured heights, weights, and demographic data on students will be collected at four time points. At parallel times, school nurses will be surveyed to identify changes in food and PA environments in the schools (e.g., salad bars, drinking water in cafeterias, recess) and changes in the food and PA environment surrounding schools will be documented (e.g., new/renovated parks and trails and upgraded corner stores). Changes will be geocoded to establish proximity to schools. The impact of our proposed research derives from our having identified schools for study that have experienced declines and increases in obesity rates and our ability to identify alterable factors in the environment that can be linked to obesity trends among varied age, gender, and race/ethnicity groups. The findings will provide critical evidence for developing tailored community and school interventions for reducing the burden of childhood obesity.

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  • Evaluation of Prescription Drug Overdose Data-Driven Prevention Initiative

    New Jersey Department of Health

    The purpose of this project is to: 1) evaluate the extent to which the State developed a state-wide, data-informed strategy to identify, implement, and drive effective programs and policies that enhance New Jersey’s efforts to prevent and reduce opioid overuse, misuse, abuse, and overdose; and 2) identify ways to enhance the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program (NJPMP) and related policies in order to maximize New Jersey’s ability to prevent and reduce opioid overuse, misuse, abuse, and overdose. Activities include observation of meetings and events, key informant interviews, and technical assistance as requested.

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  • Support for Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey Communities

    Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

    This project has three components: 1) develop and pilot measures of diffusion of a culture of health (CoH) and assess their usefulness to New Jersey Health Initiative (NJHI)-supported communities and to the field; 2) serve as a resource to the 20 community coalitions in their efforts to document their progress and refine their strategies; and 3) provide feedback to the communities on the functioning of their coalitions.

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  • Assessing New Jersey's Perspectives on Health and Well-Being

    Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

    New Jersey policymakers and other leaders would benefit from improved information on the views of state residents about forces advancing or impeding their health and well-being. As a result, this project is intended to: 1) measure the views of the New Jersey public about health and well-being-related concerns and needs; 2) stimulate dialogue among New Jersey opinion leaders in government, business, non-profit service and advocacy organizations, and funding organizations about public perspectives on health and well-being in New Jersey; and 3) lay the groundwork for possible collaborative funding of future Perspectives on Health & Well-Being polls. Guided by an Advisory Committee consisting of representatives of New Jersey-focused funders, three rounds of polls will be conducted at 12-month intervals. To inform poll development, existing national and regional polls will be reviewed and focus groups conducted with diverse communities around the state. Each poll will be followed by extensive communication activities (e.g., public symposia, media events, briefings of key groups, etc.), again designed in consultation with the Advisory Committee. As the project progresses, opportunities will be sought to diversify funding of future polls.

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  • The Impact of Environmental Changes on Children’s BMI and Behaviors: A Panel Study

    National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

    This six-year project is conducting a controlled evaluation of the impact of changes in the food and physical activity (PA) environments on childhood obesity and related behaviors in four New Jersey cities. These cities have been targeted for interventions by major initiatives, affording the opportunity to conduct a natural experiment. The study aims are to advance our understanding of the relationship between elements of the environment and childhood obesity and related behaviors, assess the impact of specific environmental interventions, and demonstrate an innovative methodology for controlled evaluation of community interventions. The research design relies upon a prospective, longitudinal study of a randomly selected panel of 1,200 children in these cities. The research team collected comprehensive baseline data on obesity-related behaviors and body mass index in 2009-2010 in a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The data also include documentation of the food and physical activity environments to which these children were exposed (geo-coded for analysis). Comprehensive data collection on children is being repeated in four years and relevant changes in the environment are being monitored over the same period. Changes may include presence of new opportunities for healthy eating or physical activity (e.g., new supermarkets, playgrounds); significant enhancement of existing ones (e.g., addition of healthy foods to convenience stores, expanded physical education in schools), as well as non-intervention related change (e.g., retail outlets that close). Individual-level exposure will be measured by proximity of the environmental change to each child’s residence (using geo-spatial methods). The analysis evaluates the impact of exposure to these changes on a comprehensive set of outcomes including behaviors relevant to food consumption and PA as well as weight status. The research design facilitates an exceptional degree of control in isolating the effects of particular intervention strategies and promises to make a significant contribution to enhancing prevention efforts.

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There are no current projects for this focus area at this time.